Bognor Regis pubs look forward to welcoming customers
Free to serve customers in outdoor spaces from April 12, pubs all over town are preparing to open their beer garden gates for next week.
Full-scale refurbishments, outdoor bars and parasols are just some of the improvements made by landlords as excitement builds for another step back to normality.
“Everyone I’ve been speaking to can’t wait to come back into a pub, it’s been great,” said Charlie Cockaday, owner of the Fox Inn in Felpham.
“We’re looking very busy, actually. We’re probably 50 per cent full at the minute. The phone doesn’t stop ringing.”
To get ready for re-opening, the pub has built an entirely new outdoor bar, something they have been planning for several years but the time for which was made possible by the pandemic.
Mr Cockaday said: “We’ve had it in our mind that we wanted an outdoor bar since the day we took over the pub.”
Even so, owners of The Fox hope that the new bar, alongside their recently launched app, will make servicing their 244 capacity garden even easier.
The Fox isn’t the only pub to have built an outdoor bar. The William Hardwicke, in Bognor Regis town centre, has done the same.
For The Hardwicke, the new bar is just one part of a pub-wide refurbishment which has seen owner Nick Marshall make a number of improvements to the outdoor area of the pub.
“We’ve increased the size of our garden, we’ve increased the amount of tables and seating under cover, we’ve added a sound system and we’ve got an all-weather television out there,” Mr Marshall said.
This is alongside a ‘bottom to top’ refurbishment of the town centre favourite.
“It’s everything,” Mr Marshall said. “The whole thing has been redecorated.”
Denise Bennett, owner of The Carlton Hotel on The Esplanade, has made a number of similar improvements.
Alongside a series of building and refurbishment works, she has also bought a number of parasols, outdoor heaters, blankets and umbrellas to make sure guests on the pub’s outdoor terrace – with views of the coast – are as comfortable as possible.
She has a number of concerns about the challenges of an entirely outdoor service, but says she is excited to get back behind the bar.
“I really am loving that everyone’s calling and old customers are getting in touch. It’s nice to know they’re there for us,” she said.
“All we can do is the best we can, give them brollies and blankets and things like that.”